I used to think I was creative and resourceful…and then my daughter started preschool. I’ve since learned that a last-minute approach to class gifts will never do. (These are the gifts that your child gives to every member of his or her class or homeroom.) Being successful at this task in our hectic times is not about competing with moms who may have more time and creativity than I do; it’s about me not looking ridiculous and embarrassing my kid in the process. It’s the adult version of peer pressure – and we moms willingly inflict it on each other.
Following are some tips for keeping these gift-giving occasions from getting the best of you in more ways than one.
Time is off the essence. Sure those homemade lollipops tied to hand-painted doily tags seemed like a great idea…that is until you timed the assembly at a whopping 5 minutes each. Five minutes each times 20 gifts to assemble equals bad news…every time. Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, pick a gift or craft that you’ll be able to undertake without an overwhelming sense of dread and that can be realistically accomplished within your time and budget parameters. And while it’s easier said than done, try not to leave the shopping and assembly until the very last minute. The only thing worse than an all-night college study session is pulling an all night glue gun session on a work night.
Get their hands dirty. Don’t forget that the gift is meant to be from your child, so try to include him or her in coming up with the idea and creating it. It gives him or her a sense of ownership and pride, but you’ll also be glad for the extra set of hands. Once kids know how much work goes into the gifts they make – they’ll be more appreciative of the gifts they receive.
Thinking outside the candy box. I am that mom who tosses out many of the candy trinkets my daughter brings home from school. In my defense, I kept the notes for her yearbook which will last a lot longer than the unbearable sugar high we would have endured. There are lots of great time- and cost-saving ideas that can bring a smile to a child’s face. Bubbles never cease to amaze any child under the age 5. Crazy Straws make any drink a whole lot “funner,” and don’t underestimate the power of fresh fruit. Yep, I said it – fresh fruit, like one of the awe-inspiring baskets from Edible Arrangements. These can be a little bit expensive, but if you divide the cost by 20 kids and realize what you pay per kid, it might be worth it, especially since you only have to buy one gift for the entire class.
My go-to resource. Did you know that there are experts whose job it is to come up with some of the most entertaining craft projects for you and your kids? These magical people work at Family Fun magazine and generously bestow their creativity and wisdom on us every season. And more importantly, check out some of TTPM’s great Valentine’s ideas.